A Pagan friend of mine mentioned recently that Beltane isn't really a holiday they celebrate; being single and not all that interested in sex, they don't connect with a lot of the symbolism associated with the holiday. I can totally relate. Surely, Beltane isn't just a holiday for horny lovers. As part of the ever-spiraling dance of the seasons, there are a lot of blessings that this time of year brings that can be enjoyed by those of us who are chaste, single, or otherwise just not that interested in turning everything into a metaphor for girl-parts and boy-parts. So in the spirit of the season, here are seven things to love about a sex-free Beltane!
Wordless Wednesday: Spring Blessings!
However you celebrate the vernal equinox, may the many blessings of spring be with you today!
Light a Candle to Begin
Christmas eve night, about nine o'clock. Basket slung over one arm and bumping into my hip with every step, I trudge through the snow. The ribbon wound around the basket's slim handle glistens in a hint of milky moonlight, gold thread woven in elaborate patterns through the deep red cloth. In the basket, a red pillar candle and two tapers — scented "seasonal berry" — jostle in a nest of intertwined greens, bits of douglas fir and blue spruce smelling sweetly of bent needles and dried sap; wedged among them, the frankincense sticks, the crystal bowl full of dark sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, the small jar of spring water decorated with silvery snowflake designs and curled bits of blue string. The snow crunches as I feel my way along the un-shoveled path through the park, some of it falling onto the tops of my moccasin-like shoes and slipping down inside to melt against bare skin.
The Ponds, by Mary Oliver
In a moment of sad synchronicity, only a few hours after I posted this I found out that Mary Oliver is seriously ill. Writers and poets are sharing their stories about how her work has influenced them, and sending their blessings and prayers. I know many Druids and Pagans are also familiar with her work and have been touched by her vision and love of nature. Please take a few moments today to express your love and gratitude for an amazing woman, and consider sharing your story with her by sending her an open letter. In honor of our first Valentine's Day as husband and wife, I wanted to share the poem that Jeff and I had read at our wedding, "The Ponds," by Mary Oliver.
Altars: A Showcase
I've created many altars, shrines and ritual spaces over the years. Each expressed the unique needs and aspirations of who I was at the time of its creation, and each balanced the limits of my living space with the potential for aesthetic and spiritual engagement. For these have all been living spaces — spaces that were alive with their own energies and moods, spaces that shaped my understanding of myself and sculpted me into new forms even as I organized and cleansed and decorated and invariably made a mess of them in an ever-repeating cycle. House-hunting in Seattle has put me in mind of these many different sacred spaces, and what new altars I will craft as I make a home for myself on the shores of a new ocean. So, while I'm nursing my jet lag and scrambling to pack, I thought this week might be a good opportunity to take a look back at some of those altars of old as I dream of inspiration for new ones yet to come.
To Walk with Resolution: The Energy and Guidance of a Star
Going into the future is like going into the dark. That was the theme of our family's solstice ritual this year, as the nine of us (grandparents, parents, four kids and one cool step-uncle) settled down into a circle in the darkness of the living room. It was several hours after sunset on the longest night of the year, and the kids were antsy with excitement over unopened presents. I struck a single match, and began to weave our sacred space.
Kid-Friendly, Earth-Friendly Solstice Crafts » No Unsacred Place
In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I share some of the kid-friendly craft recipes I use for making ornaments and animal-safe ritual offerings for our winter solstice celebrations: "It’s become a winter solstice tradition at our house to wake before sunrise on the morning after the longest night and head down to the local park where we climb the highest hill and greet the new sun with songs and offerings. ..."
The Tale of Mabon: A Bedtime Story » No Unsacred Place
In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I share the story from Welsh mythology of Mabon, son of Modron, in honor of the coming autumnal equinox. This story was originally published on the former site of Meadowsweet & Myrrh back in 2009. In the comment section of the original post, a reader asked, "I've never understood the connection between this tale and the Equinox. Can you help with that connection?" This was my reply: "In Druidry, the autumnal equinox is not actually called Mabon, but instead goes by the name Alban Elfed/Elued (Welsh, meaning 'Light of the Water/Sea'). ..."
Muse in Media: Blessed Beltaine!
Just in case yesterday's post was a bit too serious for you — how about we lighten things up a bit? Every year, I manage to get this stuck in my head! A fantastic song by Jonathan Coulton about the coming of spring.... if you know what I mean. ::nudge::nudge::wink::wink:: Click to watch.
Ecstasy of Beltaine: Reflections on Love and Transgression
The significance of Beltaine reaches beyond merely being an agricultural festival focused on fertility and fecundity in service to the community, with romance acting as a bit of grease we can indulge in now and then to keep the Wheel turning. The holy day at the height of spring is also a day of ecstasy in the original sense, a day on which the attraction of life-force can pull us beyond ourselves and into communion with a larger Mystery, beyond tensions that might keep us too rigidly locked into unhealthy or hampering community bonds once they have outlasted their benefit. Along with Samhain, the other hinge of the year, Beltaine serves as a liminal time, a time of thresholds and permeable boundaries. The great ecstatic mysteries of sex and death dominate both these holy days.